|Thx to Nanthale for the photo!|
When I started my blog, one of the first things I wanted to do was share professional accomplishments that I am particularly proud of, in addition to talking about my style, my quest to be healthy and look and feel my best, and of course, issues that matter to me. My latest professional accomplishment has been one that encompasses all of those things and so I'm really excited, honored, and a bit scared to talk about my latest adventure.
Read on, if you have some time.
As some of you may have seen, I am currently one of the faces of retail giant Ashley Stewart. Even as I type those words, I feel pride and excitement at the thought of it. This is a company that I have always admired and respected. I can remember the first time I learned about Ashley Stewart as a teenager who was hungry for fashionable clothes that catered to women who were my size. At that time, I was a lot bigger and felt like there were few, if any, stores that could reflect who I was on the inside because most plus size sections did not cater to a younger woman who wanted to express herself through fashion. But strolling through a mall near my parents house in suburban New Jersey one day, I saw a beautiful, plus size black woman smiling at me through the window of a store filled with fashionable clothing. I was fascinated by her, she welcomed me in with the pride she had in her eyes and the happiness that radiated through her smile. And as if that weren't enough to send me practically running through the doors, she was dressed in clothing that was on-trend at the time. After spending as much money as my part time paycheck would allow me to, I left AS with bags of cute clothing, a determination to find out the identity of that girl, and a bit of my soul restored. It was the first time I felt like I had permission to dress beautifully.
|Mia Amber Davis for Ashley Stewart|
As many of you know, we lost our angel Mia last year. It was devastating beyond words for her family and friends. But it was a huge loss for the industry. I miss Mia every day and I try to live up to her legacy. I know I have a long way to go.
I know how it seems on blogs and facebook, like everything comes easy to certain people or you look at a picture of someone and long to be in their position. I have been there so many times and spent years looking photos and wondering when it would be my turn. Where I am right now, working for AS and other retailers I once dreamed of is something that words can't express. There are far more successful models than me -- in fact many of them are my friends, and they inspire me with their work. But for me, these moments are magical. And they never stop being amazing.
But despite how it may appear in photos, modeling has been ANYTHING but easy for me. For many years, I felt like the industry slammed so many doors in my face that I was plagued by emotional bruises. For those of you who write to me or other models, I want you to be prepared for how difficult it is. When I began in this business at a size 10/12, I was told I was too small and short, and that I didn't read as plus size. Then I gained weight due to failure coping with hard times in my life, and all of a sudden I was too big. For the rest of my life, I will never forget the international agent (who is very well known) and told me that my face was not enough to compensate for my height and size. Or the photographer who told me that I would never work if I didn't lose weight and that I should not photograph my legs until I lost weight. Or the stylist who told me she simply needed someone with "a smaller waistline" and it "wasn't personal." (Maybe not to her). Or the designer who told me, "I need a model whose legs are smooth, so I can't work with you." This as she told me she was my friend and just looking out for me.
I could write a book on these kinds of moments that happened to me.
It's difficult enough to gain weight as a woman in this world. It's worse when you do it and it affects your livelihood. It can make you believe the worst about yourself. And when the world speaks to your deepest of insecurities, even as a whisper, it comes out in your ears as a deafening roar.
Before I got deep into the world of modeling, had you told me that I would be one of the faces for AS, I would have excitedly responded with the idea that all things are possible through God. For most of my life, I was a woman who believed that I could do anything through hard work, determination and prayer. If you told me that even a year and a half ago, when I was deep in the throes of sadness and wanting so badly to "make it" that I was choking the life out of the process, I would not have believed you. I would have teared up at the beauty of a dream, not believing it can be a reality.
But God brought me through that, to the other side. Through prayer, good friends, spiritual searching, therapy and changing my outlook, I was able to climb out of my hole and let go. And as soon as I did, good things started happening.
|At the Harlem flagship store.|
Don't go into modeling or whatever profession you choose believing it can validate you. Believing that if you could just MAKE IT, that somehow you're worth it. Because the truth is, you're already worth it and God would not place a dream in your heart if it wasn't achievable. Go after your dreams, believe in them and embrace the process and the journey. Understand that your life speaks to you every minute of the day, if you're willing to listen. Understand that all things are possible, and just because it's not happening right NOW, it does not mean it never will.
I am living proof it can.
And if ever I wondered what my purpose in becoming a model was, I feel in my heart it was to share it with one of you who read this and had my words speak to your pain and your hope. Thank you for allowing me to do that.